For some shoppers, the lack of a V-8 in the Frontier might be the signal to move up to a larger truck. But the 4.0-liter V-6 that's standard on most Frontiers and optional on some of them makes 261 horsepower, and pairs well with the automatic transmission, providing plenty of torque in the mid-range for strong acceleration and good passing punch. Towing capacity rates up to 6,500 pounds. Throws are rather long for the manual transmissions, but they work well, as does the five-speed automatic, which responds nicely to quick passing needs.
And if you're thinking of the four-cylinder for better gas mileage, we wouldn't count on it; the base 152-hp, 2.5-liter will be wheezing with heavy loads and hard-pressed unless you only drive lightly loaded on level terrain.
Across the lineup, you'll find that the Frontier steers and handles quite well, with accurate, communicative steering and good body control—without the shudder and hop that affect some truck suspensions especially when lightly loaded.
Get the V-6, and you'll be satisfied with the performance on tap from the 2011 Nissan Frontier.